toxic thought waste site

Theological whimsy, metaphysical larks, and other spiritually radioactive waste products.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Adventures in Enlightenment: Mindfulness (final thoughts)

(the mindfulness adventure)

So that was pretty interesting experiment. I stayed pretty disciplined at it. Even though I didn't put in a lot of time, I did do it pretty much every day (both sitting meditation and random moments of "mindfulness" throughout the day). I find meditating to be one of the weirdest experiences. You don't really realize what a chatter box your brain is until you just sit there and watch it and try to get it to just shut up for a second.

It occurs to me that in a way mindfulness and meditation are a way of running your brain in a "debugger". Debuggers are certainly an interesting way to learn how a complex system works. But the funny thing about debuggers is that some problems go away while you are running the debugger and some problems only occur while you are running a debugger. In any case it's nice to have the option to run in debug mode on occasion so you can try to understand the root cause of how a certain system works. It's just not clear if the effort of getting the mindfulness/meditation debugger working is worth it in the long run. But if nothing else it is entertaining to try.

One thing I thought about a lot is why I should think mindfulness/meditation is necessarily a good thing. About the only thing good you can say unequivocally about it is that it tends to reduce stress in the practitioners. But other than that does it demonstrably improve my life in some way? Does it make one more enlightened? I certainly don't associate proficiency in meditation with success in the world. It may be that the acceptance and peace of mind of meditation actually makes you less likely to have the partial insanity required to do great things. Certainly you need focus to do great things but I'm not sure why I would think that mindfulness/meditation is a necessary or sufficient condition for this sort of thing. Do I really need any more peace/relaxation in my life? Maybe the thing I really need is to create more chaos and hunger for greatness. Meh. Sitting is easier. :)

In any case I'm going to try to stick with the minimal mindfulness plan for a while and see how it goes.

Tune in tomorrow for next month's adventure in enlightenment.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Infidel Links - 2007-07-29

I couldn't help but think of the bumblebee man from the Simpsons. But, man, that's really crazy.

Im in ur scripturz updatin teh lingo

Baby's got book

The shocking truth about atheists

Solution to all of the worlds problems: get everyone one on the planet to work as a religion reporter.

The relationship between IQ and belief. Do you want to guess what it is?



Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Creation museum: a biblical perspective on dinosaurs and the 7 C's.

Sure you've seen all the mocking tours of the Creation Museum done by deluded atheists. Isn't it time you heard the view of the faithful? No? Well, here you go anyway. In two parts: part 1 (starts at 1h20m) and part 2 (starts at 1h20m).

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Anyone other non-believers going to OSCON this week?

Shoot me a note and we can get together for a bible study or something. Probably "or something"....


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Infidel Links - 2007-07-15

Song of Praise (with subtitles help for the belief impaired)

Mr Bean spake of the Amazing Jesus

The Simpsons: Left Below! (the Simpsons are still on? Who knew?)

I thinks this whole thing could have been avoided if he just explained that Jesus is one of the avatars of Vishnu

Biblical precedents for the sex acts of your choice?:

I believe technically these are called "Jesus Horses"

Pope decides to set record straight regarding who is really the really real church and not the super fakey church

Map the the US showing religious density



Saturday, July 14, 2007

Virtual Prostelyzation

I wonder, if you get converted while playing Second Life, does it count for real? Maybe the convertees still go to hell but their avatar goes to virtual heaven. In any case, if you see a pair of young male avatars with dark slacks, white shirts, ties and backpacks, fly away to another zone as fast as you can....

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Double Dose of Dennett

Recently came across these couple of gems. I'm hoping that I can get a seat next to him in hell. We'll have a good laugh about the whole lake of fire thing...

Dennett in Denmark (good summary of "Breaking the Spell")

Dennett on TED (memes and friends)



Monday, July 09, 2007

How's your God-ar?

As I was reading this article it got me thinking about my flawless sense of "god-ar". I don't know about you, but I am almost never surprised when I learn someone's religious inclinations. If I've had a chance to interact with someone for even a short while I can usually place them within a fairly accurate band of belief intensity and flavor. Maybe one in 20 surprises me a little.

About four years ago I was shocked at how badly my godar had misfired. I totally had someone pegged as a blatant unbeliever only to learn that they were very active in their church, ran their web page, blah, blah blah. But then it turned out I was totally right all along. I had no idea that Unitarian Universalist was essentially a code word for non-believer. In fact he was as hard core of an atheist as you'd care to meet. Whew. Some flavors of catholic sometimes through me off a little but in general I'm just not surprised very often.

Is it the hair cuts? Figures of speech? Fake niceness? Crippled sense of humor? I dunno.

I should work carnivals and try to make some money off my gift.

How's your god-ar?


Friday, July 06, 2007

OK, I give up for real this time.

You know how you hear that all the cool kids are doing something so you give it a try and you don't like it and you figure that something must be wrong with you and then you forget about it for a while and then you try it again and you still don't like it but are left with this lingering confusion about why everyone else seems to like this thing and either they are crazy or you are and then finally you realize that everyone else is crazy and you are the sane one.

Well that's where I am with anime. I really have tried to like it but it's like country music. You can call Johnny Cash country but he is really just his own thing and he's good. But the core of country just sucks, sucks, sucks. Same for anime. There are occasional cross genre pieces that I have really enjoyed or at least found moderately fascinating (Ghost in the Shell, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and a few others) but in general it's just terrible. I really don't get it and I've tried past any reasonable amount of time to "get it".

My last effort was prompted by a list of anime recommendations on Steve Yegge's blog. I really like reading this guy. He seems to have a halfway reasonable head on his shoulders. Why that should indicate he has good taste in anime is not clear, but I thought I'd give it a shot. So I took one of his top picks, Last Exile. And from the first episode it sucked and pissed me off. But he said he was going to name his kids after the main characters, so maybe it gets better, I think. And my wife has the same mixed feelings as me about anime but she indulges me and we keep working our way through. And the story just gets more and more random and stupid. It's all the worst parts of Steam Boy, except it goes on for hour after hour....

So it's official. Anime is dead to me now. And like an abused wife in some crappy country song I'm still open to the idea that anime is awesome and I'm just missing something. But please tell me, what am I missing? What do people think is so great about Last Exile in particular and anime in general?


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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Who are your must read authors?

I learned recently that Steven Pinker has a new book coming out soon. And immediately it passed through my mind that without any doubt I will buy that book the moment it is available and find time to read it. As I pondered how sure I was of this fact I tried to compile a list of authors in my head for which it is a certainty that if they publish a book I will buy it and read it and think it's awesome without exception.

I was actually surprised to find that I only came up with 2 authors for my list: Steven Pinker and Daniel Dennett. Now there are of course a brazillion other authors who I love to read and if I had more time I would read more of them, but for some reason these two are non-negotiable. I must consume all of their content as soon as it is available.

Who are your must read authors?


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Adventures in Enlightenment: Mindfulness

OK, experiment for this month will be an old, old, old school technique: mindfulness. I've thought about this topic and even tried it in a casual way off and on for years. Most recently I've seen it discussed by Sam Harris and Susan Blackmore among others. If nothing else mindfulness is the ultimate pragmatic spiritual practice. "Don't take my word for it, just try it".

As usual I'll play around with what is interesting to try and what is "working", but as a first pass I'll try the following:

- Read this mindfulness description and suggestions.
- Try 6 minutes of sitting in as close to a lotus position as I can and try the various mindfulness exercises. Why 6 minutes, because time is money my friend. Why the lotus position? Hopefully the discomfort will prevent me from falling asleep. If I happen to have more time or the practice is interesting this time slot will go up.
- Try to remember at least three times per day to do an "in the moment" awareness exercise.
- If I'm feeling ambitious, crack open my copy of "Where ever you go, there you are" and read an occasional chapter.

OK, let's try my first micro-zazen and see how that goes.

... 6 minutes later ...

Well, I'm not *quite* enlightened yet and ouch!

So it goes...



Infidel Links - 2007-07-01

Satan hates churches. Get it? Get it?

Who would Jesus spank? Your wife apparently

You say formerly gay, I say looking for an opportunity to be fabulous again

Dawkins gives his book review of the latest Behe book. Care to guess what he thinks?

That whole atheist "fad" through the lens of fox news

Creationism = human rights abuse?